Ponting, Clarke steer Australia to 217

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Bangalore, Feb 15 (PTI) Captain Ricky Ponting and hisdeputy Michael Clarke scored sedate half centuries asAustralia were all out for a modest 217 against South Africain their second warm-up match ahead of the cricket World Cupat the near-empty Chinnaswamy Stadium here today.

Ponting, who made 55 off 84 deliveries and Clarke (73 of96 balls) lifted Australia from trouble with a 122-run thirdwicket stand after they lost both their openers inside thefirst five overs with the team score at six.

Apart from Ponting and Clarke, Cameron White (22) was theother top-order batsmen to have made notable contribution.

Dale Steyn and Robin Peterson shone with the ball forSouth Africa, picking up three wickets apiece giving away 21and 45 runs respectively.

Lonwabo Tsotsobe (1/29) and Pakistan-born leg-spinnerImran Tahir (1/33) also returned among wickets for Proteas.

Opting to bat, Australia had a precarious start as ShaneWatson departed in the very fourth ball, lbw to Steyn.

It could have been double blow for Australia in the firstball of the second over had Jacques Kallis not dropped BradHaddin at short point off Lonwabo Tsotsobe.

But it was not to be Haddin''s day today as a brilliantTsotsobe caught him short of the crease with a direct throw atthe wicket.

After the early dismissals, skipper Ponting and Clarkejoined hands and the duo played cautiously with occasionalboundaries in between to raise the 100-run stand for the thirdwicket in 131 balls.

With wickets hard to come by, Proteas captain Smithbrought back Steyn into the attack in the 29th over and Clarkewelcomed the quickie with a pull over mid-wicket.

It was left-arm spinner Robin Peterson who broke thedangerous-looking third partnership when he had Ponting caughtat long-off by Hashim Amla but not before rival skipper scoredhis second consecutive half-century in the practice games,coming off 84 balls with the help of seven hits to the fence.

Three overs later Peterson struck another big blow byscalping Clarke. Looking to cut a quicker Peterson delivery,Clarke edged one to AB de Villiers behind the stumps. He faced96 deliveries en route to his fifty which was laced with sixboundaries.

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